Key Tasks for October
During October the following activities are usually undertaken:
- Regular brushing in the mornings to remove the moisture from the leaf is an important maintenance regime to deter an attack of disease.
- Monitor thatch levels and aerate to achieve desired levels of oxygen within the sward.
- Tip the grass when necessary to prevent any excessive growth taking place
- Apply further top-dressing if any holes or hollows require
- Check for disease and pests, seek advice if necessary
- Drag brush daily
- Spike if conditions are right
End of Season Renovations
The success of the renovations will be down to the appropriate work undertaken including:
The objectives of end of season renovations are:
- To remove thatch
- To repair worn areas
- To renovate surface levels
- To remove unwanted debris
- To re-establish sward densities (overseeding)
- Application of pre seeding/autumn fertilisers to promote sward establishment
The following activities are usually carried out in the following order, when conditions allow.
Mowing the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation: lower cutting height to about 3-4mm to clean and prepare green for renovation operations.
Scarification, removal of unwanted debris: collect and disposal of arisings. Depending on the severity of the thatch, you may need to scarify several times in different directions and to a depth of 4-15mm.
Aeration will usually be done with solid tines however, occasionally hollow tines will be used if a change of soil texture is required.
Topdressing. Spreading can be achieved by several methods, utilising pedestrian or ride-on, disc or drop action top spreaders, or by hand using a shovel and a barrow. Best carried out in dry weather.
Overseeding. It is important to ensure a good groove or hole is made to receive the seed; good seed to soil contact is essential for seed germination. Good moisture and soil temperatures will see the seed germinate between 7-14 days.
Fertilising. More phosphate and potash is applied during the autumn and winter period to encourage root growth.
Watering/Irrigation is essential after renovations to ensure your seed germinates.
Brushing/switching of the playing surface keeps the green clean and removes any dew or surface water. Keeping the surface dry will aid resistance to disease.
The start of October promises to be fairly settled as high pressure dominates and clear skies promise low relative humidity and cold night time temperatures. The sun is still high enough in the sky that bright sunshine during the day will provide enough energy to drive continual recovery growth from post drought renovations. It is likely, however, that settled weather will not extend throughout the whole of the month; beware cloudy days, milder nights, still days and high relative humidity, for these are the conditions where Microdochium nivale will proliferate. With the withdrawal of the fungicide Iprodione in June of this year, autumn 2018 is the first year UK turf managers head into high periods of disease pressure without a get out of jail curative card. Furthermore, there is significant pressure on other active substances so don’t be surprised if autumn 2019 sees us with even less chemical options on the menu. Now then more than ever, all levels of the turf industry from top end professional to the hard working volunteers of the local amateur scene need to engage with a proactive mentality of Integrated Pest Management. If you are at all unsure of what this entails, then pick up the telephone and call one of the Pitchcare Technical Advisors who will be able to provide you with advice on cost effective solutions and practical steps to implement.
Regulating nitrogen inputs to maintain steady hardy shoot and leaf growth is a priority. Lush growth is more susceptible to attack by fungal pathogens so slow release nitrogen, either polymer coated or methylene urea in combination with straight urea, will give longevity through to the new year. Where conventional fertilisers are chosen, ensure the ammonium value is not above 4 or 5 percent.
A dose of micronutrients is a good idea to ensure the plant has a full menu of essential nutrition.
Iron – the traditional go to option for hardening the plant in the winter. However, there is no research to suggest iron plays a role in hardening the plant against pathogen attack. Calcium and silicon are the proven elements for this need. Sulphate of iron in particular will weaken the cell walls of the leaf due to the acidity, rather a fully chelated iron with a pH more towards neutral will be far less antagonistic towards cell wall integrity and beneficial leaf dwelling beneficial microorganisms.
Carbohydrates - Applications of carbon energy in the form of sugar during the autumn will be sorted in the plant and soil over winter. The benefit of this is a more resilient and well developed plant in the early spring.
Seaweed – maintain seaweed applications during October, but avoid applications at times when environmental conditions favour fungal pathogens. Seaweed will illicit important beneficial defensive and stress responses in the plant and associated microorganisms when applied ahead of disease activity and when conditions favour the disease.
Amino acids – play an important role in abiotic stress tolerance, helping plants to prepare for and cope with autumnal and winter stress events.
Humates – continue applications to maximise nutrient availability and application efficiency as well as providing habitable zones for beneficial bacteria.
Ø Adequate balance nutrition of all plant essential elements not just NPK
Ø Minimise stress by raising heights of cut and avoiding activities such as top dressing which weaken and damage leaf integrity
Ø Look after the soil via regular light aeration
Ø Reduce periods of leaf blade wetness by removing dews or using dew dispersants (apply only to a dry leaf)
Ø Monitor disease forecasts via resources such as Syngenta’s Greencast
Ø Plan, stock, apply beneficial nutrition as part of non-pesticidal disease management
Ø Take advice on and plan strategic preventative fungicide applications using historic data, live weather forecasts and site specific conditions and protected maintenance operations which may cause abiotic stress.
There are no legal substances which can be applied for the control of worms. Any substance or products which act directly upon worms would never be approved by CRD for authorisation.
The only legal option is modification of the local surface soil environment via acidifying with specifically formulated solutions of ammonium sulphate or the application of straight sulphate.
Beware regular applications of sulphate of iron, they may well discourage surface casting activity, but the iron will accumulate in the soil causing long term imbalances and negative effects to plant health throughout rest of the year.
It is important to maintain machines by carrying out regular servicing and repairs.
As grass growth slows down, use the time to take some machines out of operation for an overhaul.
- Inspect and clean machinery after use.
- Maintain a stock of consumables for your machinery, replace worn and damaged parts as necessary.
- Secure machinery nightly with good storage facilities and strong locks
- Record makes and models and take pictures of your equipment as additional reference
Our Lantra Accredited Bowls Green Maintenance Course is available as an online course. Now you can learn about maintaining a bowls green in the comfort of your own home and in your own time. This newly developed course consists of a number of videos with assessment questions, and an accompanying hard copy Course Manual. The Online Course is Lantra accredited and provides you with all the basic knowledge required to maintain a green over a 12 month period.
Pitchcare is the only provider of LANTRA accredited training courses in the maintenance of Bowls Greens. More information
We can also arrange Lantra accredited training on site to groups of 6 – 10 people. Email Carol Smith for information.
The Course Manual is available for purchase separately.